BUNGLEBORI CREEK – Waratah Ridge > Bunglebori & Return – 10 – 12 August 2018
For those bushwalking friends of mine who came up with a good excuse for NOT walking with me this weekend – consider yourselves having dodged a bullet!
Only John L’Estrange (81yrs old) bless his heart, was keen to come along with me for a bit of exploring. We had intended walking for 2 days but extended it to 3 when it was just the two of us.
We started the adventure with a trip down Ethereal Canyon. I’d been down this creek in 2016 and knew that it was a nice trip and John hadn’t been there before. We got to the Waratah Ridge locked gate at around 10am, parked the car and then walked back up the fire-trail for 500m or so, and then took a left hand turn onto another fire-trail (not marked on the map). Last time we accessed the creek about half way down it, this time I wanted to enter a bit further upstream.
It didn’t take us long to get to the end and then bash our way through nasty ferns, ribbon grass and scrub to get to the old logging trail which would take us to our proposed campsite. This logging trail would also take us back to Waratah Ridge and the car on Sunday, it’s a route often used to get from the Bunglebori to Waratah Ridge.
We discussed our plans for the next two days. The original intention was the cross the Bunglebori, head up the other side, head along a ridge and then drop down into a creek to see if there was any canyon sections in that. When getting water for the night, I looked at the other side and it looked like really hard work getting across and then up the ridge, so, we decided instead to take a look further downstream in the creek we had just been in, it seemed to pass between two cliff-lines and I figured there might be some canyon sections in there. If we had time, we’d also look up another small creek.
Eventually we arrived at the Bunglebori, around 11am, the 500m of creek that we’d gone down had taken about 2 1/2 hours, and really nothing to write home about, in fact the only thing we came away with was the resolution never to go back into that creek again. Now I know why no-one ever takes the creek as a shortcut from the Bunglebori to the logging trail (if it was half-way easy, it would cut off 500m of walking upstream on the Bunglebori).
We decided that we had enough time to go down to the next side creek. I had marked on my map “Mini Canyon”, I’m not sure who told me about it but it was worth checking out!
Before long we were at the side creek and walking up it, no photos of this section because frankly it was totally uninteresting. The scrub was pretty bad by the side of the creek and so we climbed a little where it wasn’t so scrubby. I have no idea why I’ve written “Mini Canyon” on my map with an arrow to this creek as there was nothing! We went all the way to the top, found nothing and turned around again.
The best thing I can say is that it is a good route out of the Bunglebori and would take you to a nice ridge and then all the way to the top of the logging trail that we’d be walking out on the next day, effectively cutting off a kilometre of walking upstream on the ‘Bori.
We had lunch in a nice sunny spot and then headed back down to the ‘Bori. The first 200m was great, we retraced our steps to the creek we’d come down earlier and then continued on for another 750m heading for our campsite. This 750m proved to be horrendous, if we weren’t climbing over and under logs, we were bashing through tree ferns, or negotiating our way around big pools of water. I’d walked along this section of creek two years ago and don’t remember it being as bad as it was, although speaking with Jeff yesterday, he said that he remembered it as being horrible and “never to be repeated”.
There was a faint foot-pad that we could follow made by a group that must have been along this stretch of creek a few months ago (trodden ferns) which was good as it allowed us to at least walk a track that others had negotiated (no need for route finding).
The piece de resistance was right at the end, a big pool with sheer cliffs on both sides, I sure don’t remember doing this part at all. I had to climb over the tree ferns that were on the side of the cliff, hoping that they wouldn’t break off and send me into the deep pool of freezing water, then I had to hope that once I was over that John would make it too.
Both of us were relieved to eventually get to our exit point. That 750m of creek had taken us 2 1/2 hours, and we’ve both made the resolution that we’ll never, ever return to this section of the Bunglebori again!
We arrived back at camp by 3pm and set about making cups of tea and getting warm after the many water crossings that we’d made. We both hit the sack around 6.30pm and must have been tired as both of us slept until 7am next morning!
It had showered a few times over night and as the weather forecast predicted, the temperature had dropped, so we broke camp and were on the track by 8am. The walk out (apart from a few places where I lost the track and had to crawl through yet more ferns), was pretty easy, we arrived back at the car by 10am, and that was taking half an hour to have breakfast in the sun.
So, how was the weekend you ask …
- Ethereal canyon was as pretty as I remembered and I found a couple of good camp site spots if you wanted a bludge weekend.
- That extension of “Ethereal Creek” was a waste of time – but I never have to go back there again and I’m no longer curious.
- We did find a nice campsite at the end of the logging trail, only 2 hours to get there and lots of pagodas around to explore if you wanted something to do (another bludge weekend).
- I’m never going back to walk up/down that section of the Bunglebori and more importantly there are absolutely no camp sites in that section of the creek. But at least if someone talks me into going over to the Western Arthurs again (you have to use the Bunglebori to get there), we found an easier way in/out … but realistically probably never going to the Western Arthurs again anyway.
For much of the trip I had in the back of my mind the headlines if something had gone wrong “two old people winched out of the Bunglebori, what were they thinking to go there in the first place?”
As John kept saying it was truly “an adventure with Marilyn”, but he survived! Thank you so much for coming with me John.